I began reading some of the mystical “revelations” of Julian of Norwich, written in 1373, when she 30. I bought the book 28 years ago – it was about time I read it. It actually is a good read. She speaks of the intense, self-sacrificing love of Christ for each one and our need to realise our invitation to be completely loved by God. As I read it, I found that I was quickly and carelessly consuming it as I have the latest Dan Brown novel Inferno which I also brought along (don’t bother, by the way, it’s a bomb).
I understood Julian’s description of God’s intimate embrace of us and realised how I need to allow that to happen – rather than holding a tight faith-grip, I need to allow myself to be gently held. At first, I read her words on my terms, to simply finish it, rack up another accomplished read, I noticed that I approached it based on what I was going to do with it, rather than discovering how it might do something with me, what it may teach me, how it may embrace me. Could I encounter these words with openness, rather than based on my past biases, with a new way of learning?
My way, as I put it, is the DAMN-ing way, as I need to Dominate, Accumulate, Manipulate and Negotiate, making a product, a commodity out of everything I encounter. But I now, for instance, consider embracing my room here with its limitations as a place that holds me, as the cell of a hermit would. I don’t have all I want, but I accept what it offers and celebrate its conditions, a gift offered me, out of God’s abundance. I can’t be as comfortable as I wish in Palestine, with the heat, the lack of car, the feelings that I’m not being productive, the guilt of not making a difference, but this is not mine to control. It is controlling me, moving me, transforming me. So like Julian, I’m learning not to focus on how to love God as much being loved, consumed, held by God and bring others into that space of accepting and enjoying that love. To be known and know that I am loved and accepted is the call of Christ, for we are incapable of truly loving him. Only as we love others can we understand what God’s embracing love is all about, we can love others creatively, so they find the caress of God’s love and justice. I think maybe, I’m just, almost, beginning to get it. Thanks Julian!
Bethlehem in the 1930’s.